Hummus can be made using any type of beans. This version using pre-cooked black beans yielded a unique earthy hummus which went well with flatbreads, vegetables and chips. Try it out with kidney beans, cannelini beans or pinto beans. Each will give a different take on the classic chickpea hummus.
Ingredients (yields 2 cups)
1 can of Black Beans (15oz or 400gm)
2 tbsp tahini
3/4 cup EVOO
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 garlic clove
1/3 green bell pepper, roasted, charred skin removed and sliced
Salt per preference
3-4 tbsps water
Extra EVOO, a few black beans, a sprig of coriander leaf and a dash cayenne pepper for prettying it up :)
1) Put everything into a food processor and blend. Blender doesn't work as well so please ensure you use a food processor.
2) Garnish with a dash of paprika and a swirl of olive oil. Drop a few black beans and center a sprig of coriander leaf. Serve warm.
This is one of the recipes I hae learnt recently in a shortcrust pastry baking course in June. Held over 5 days from 8-2pm, I learnt Apple Cranberry Pie, Flan Parisian, Tarte Normande, Tarte Bourdaloue and Quiche Lorraine... the latter two were the ones that brought me to my knees (with all that butter and cream!). I devoured with my family as soon as I brought them home.
Tarte Bourdaloue is a classic pear and almond tart and originates from Paris in 1906. I omitted the pears this time I didn't have any preserved pears at home. So what resulted was an Almond Cream Tart which is equally delicious. Don't be alarmed by the number of ingredients and steps. What results is a beautiful decadent tart which you can enjoy for days :)
I will make the classic Tarte Bourdaloue in one of the future blog posts.
Ingredients (yields a 8inch round tart)
200gm plain flour
100gm unsalted butter
2gm vanilla essence
Almond Cream Filling
60gm softened butter
60gm ground almond
10gm plain flour
2 gm vanilla essence
1 cup almond flakes/almond slivers
40gm Apricot glaze (for the shine - optional)
1) First and foremost, cut the butter into cubes, put them in a small bowl and place them in the freezer. I can't emphasize how important it is that the butter is ice cold. It can't be soft as then it would affect the pastry dough texture. It will not hold itself well and will crack easily in the later stages.So, please please make sure the butter is hard and frozen.
Sieve the plain flour, sugar and salt.. After sifting, put these ingredients into a mixing bowl.
2) Now, take out the hard cubes of butter from the freezer and place them into the mixing bowl with the flour mixture. Use a plastic scrapper for 5 mins to break the butter into the flour.
3) Working very quickly so that the dough still remains cold, use your finger tips to get a flaky dough texture like glass shards.
4) Mix the egg, ice water and vanilla essence in a another small bowl pour this mix into the butter dough.
5) Knead the entire mix quickly into a ball. Don't over knead.
6) Using your cleaned kitchen counter or a pastry mat, sprinkle a little flour (don't use too much flour - this will result in a hard dough) and crush the dough little by little using the heels of your palm. This is called fraisaging.
7) Continue fraisaging until all the dough is used up.
8) Again, working very quickly, join the fraisaged dough pieces into a round lump. then wrap in cling wrap. Keep it in a chiller for 20mins.
9) At this juncture, preheat the oven to 180 deg C. Start preparing the almond cream. Cream (beat with a wooden spoon) the softened butter by hand for a few minutes. Sieve the flour, ground almonds and sugar and then add this to the creamed butter. Cream again for another 2 mins. Mix the beaten egg and vanilla essence in a small bowl.. then add a little at a time (like 1/3 at a time). Mix well till well combined. Set aside in a cool place.
10) Take the chilled dough after 20 mins and roll it out on a slightly floured surface. It shouldn't be too thick and should be big enough to fit into a 8 inch tart ring or pan.
11) Butter the ring or a tart pan. Then place the rolled out flat dough into the ring gently and carefully. Smooth the dough into the ring and press along the edges. Trim off any extra dough using a rollling pin to go over the top of the ring. If there are holes or parts where the dough has been stretched out too thin, patch it up with small pieces of dough.
12) Pour in the almond cream and spread it out evenly.
13) Top with almond slivers/flakes.
14) If there is any extra dough and almond cream, make mini versions of this almond cream tart.
15) Pop the big tart and the mini ones into the oven for 25-35 mins till the top is golden brown. Remove from oven and let it cool down for 10mins. If you are using the apricot glaze, warm the glaze in a small pot till it reaches jam consistency. Then, brush over the tart. Enjoy delicious Almond Cream Tart!
Spinach & Cottage Cheese Gravy is often referred to as Palak Paneer in Hindi and is a very popular dish in the Indian cuisine. It is a vegetarian dish consisting of pureed spinach cooked with tempered spices and either cottage cheese cubes or potato cubes (I used both!). Because as both butter and cream are involved in making this dish, it can be rather heart unhealthy and should only be enjoyed occasionally. By the way, I used canola oil instead of butter and a lowfat (31% fat) version of the cooking cream. So we can call this Skinny Palak Paneer.
I had avoided attempting to make this dish as firstly I wasn't getting access to the spinach used in the authentic Palak Paneer and secondly assuming wrongly that it would involve a long cooking process. I realised only yesterday that I could just as easily substitute baby spinach and it actually is an easy quick dish to whip up.
Ingredients (2-3 servings)
100gm baby spinach
2 cups of ice cold water
200gm cottage cheese cubes (paneer cubes) or boiled potato cubes
2 tbsp canola oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 large onion, chopped roughly
1 heaped tsp ginger garlic paste
1 medium tomato, cubed medium
2 tbsp canola oil
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp chilli powder
Salt per preference
1/3 cup low fat whipping/cooking cream (extra for garnishing)
1) Wash and drain the spinach. Cut the vegetables.
2) Steam the baby spinach in a covered pot instead of blanching them in hot water. This way you would retain the nutrients of the spinach.
3) After 3-5 mins, the spinach would be cooked and wilted. Drain and immediately pour ice cold water over them to retain that gorgeous green hue. Set aside.
4) Take a medium sized pot, heat the 2 tbsp canola oil and fry the cumin seeds, chopped onions, sliced chilli and ginger garlic paste. When the onions are light brown, add in the chopped tomatoes and cook till soft.
5) Blend this tomato onion mixture with the drained cooled spinach till you get a smooth paste.
6) Heat the same pan again, add another 2 tbsp canola oil and fry all the spice powders for 5mins.
7) Pour in the spinach blend and stir to mix well.
8) Add in the salt and cream.
9) Mix well and simmer for 5 mins.
10) Add either potatoes or cubed cottage cheese in and simmer for a further 3 mins.
11) Garnish with a swirl of cream. Serve hot with boiled Basmati Rice or wholewheat flatbreads called chapathis.
My sister's husband Shahid was kind and generous to order for my family a crate of sweet Pakistani Chaunsa mangoes recently. Chaunsa mangoes are exceptionally sweet, succulent, almost fibreless and emit a wonderful sweet fragrance. They are commonly called the 'King of Mangoes'. What better way to use so many of them (there were 8!) then to use them in a refreshing smoothie perfect for hot summer days? Simple and quick and so so refreshing. I didn't add any water as I wanted it to be thick and creamy as a dessert.
Ingredients (yields 3-4 ice cream cups)
400gm Mango pulp (roughly 2 large ripe mangoes)
300gm plain yoghurt
30gm brown sugar
8-12 ice cubes
2 tbsp chopped pistachios for garnish
1) Get all the ingredients ready.
2) Blend all the ingredients (except the chopped pistachios) till they are all well incorporated and till you get a thick creamy smoothie. Chill further, garnish just before serving and enjoy!
Full Disclosure - I had ricotta cheese which were about to turn bad in a day's time and that was the main inspiration for this recipe. This is another one of my favourite recipes as it involves blending, scooping and baking all in line with the quick and easy theme of my blog. This recipe was adapted from Not so Nigella but I tweaked it to make it my own.
Ingredients (12 meatballs)
250 gm ricotta cheese
75 gm baby spinach, washed
1 red onion, chopped
2 eggs, beaten
75 gm cheddar cheese
30 gm parmesan cheese
100gm plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
4 cups of ready made marinara sauce
chilli flakes (per your heat preference)
extra parmesan/cheddar cheese for topping
dried parsley for garnish
1) Get all the ingredients ready. You hv to ensure that the ricotta cheese is still relatively firm, otherwise you'll hv a watery batter which will then make you add more flour to firm up the batter whch will in turn make your end meatballs hard (that is a very long sentence!). Preheat the oven to 180deg C or 350 deg F.
2) Fry the chopped onion for a while so that you don't get the raw taste of onion when you bite into your meatballs.
3) Blend all the ingredients except the flour, baking powder, marinara sauce and the garnishes.
4) Pour the batter into a mixing bowl and add in the flour and baking powder.
5) Mix in gently but don't overmix. You should get this consistency.
6) Pour the marinara sauce onto a flat rectangular baking dish. It should be a bit high so that the meatballs soak in the sauce while baking.
7) Using a large ice cream scoop, scoop out the spinach ricotta mix and place them into this sauce.
8) Top with more cheddar/parmesan cheese and add a bit of chilli flakes for a little bit of heat in your meatballs.
9) Bake for 45 mins or a little longer till the top is golden brown.
10) Garnish with parsley flakes and enjoy these delicious vegetarian meatballs on its own, with a toast or on your pasta.
Tagine or Tajine is a North African and Middle Eastern dish and is named after the earthenware pot in which it is cooked. It usually involves meat or fish but a vegetarian version is also very popular among many. Tagine pot was first mentioned in the famous Arabic story collection from the 9th century - One Thousand and One Nights.
A tagine pot consists of 2 parts. A circular base that is flat with low sides and a large cone that sits on this base during cooking. The conical shape of the cover is designed to help to return all the condensation to the bottom. I don't own a Tagine pot and I'm sure many of you won't as well. Don't fret - a heavy based non-stick pot with a tight lid will work just as well.
Ingredients (for 4)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium red onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, pounded
150gm Butternut Squash, peeled and cut into medium sized chunks
150gm Eggplants, cut into large chunks
1/2 a tin (200gm) diced petit tomatoes (Hunt's)
1/2 red bell pepper
1 tin (400gm) chickpeas, drained
1 cup (200ml) vegetable broth
A small bunch of coriander leaves
A small bunch of mint leaves, extra for garnishing
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 and 1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp chilli flakes (optional for those who need that extra heat)
1/2 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1) Get all the ingredients ready.
2) Before preparing all the vegetables, rinse and cook the quinoa in a small pot till the water is absorbed. I have used a tri colour quinoa but a white quinoa will do as well. Instead of water, use veg broth for a flavor enhanced quinoa.
3) Take a medium sized heavy based pot and heat the EV Olive Oil. Fry the chopped onion and garlic for a 3-5 mins.
4) Add in the butternut squash chunks. Add a few tbsps of water, stir and cover. This is to ensure the squash chunks don't stick to the base. Let it simmer and cook for 5-7 mins.
5) Next add in the spice powders and salt.
6) This will be followed by the diced tomatoes, eggplants, bell pepper, coriander and mint leaves. Stir and let it cook on medium heat for 5 mins. I am amazed by the vibrantly beautiful red green colour of this dish. And these photos didn't involve any filtering whatsoever.
7) Add in the veg broth and chickpeas. Stir and cover and let the Tagine simmer undisturbed for 10mins on low heat.
8) Serve on a bed of quinoa (or brown rice) garnished with mint leaves. Top it off with more chilli flakes, if required.
A friend of mine from my secondary school, June, gave me a great recipe for a basic choc chip cookie recently. Choc chip cookies are what even an amateur cook will be able to bake. I mean its such a basic recipe. But to some, like me, I like my cookies soft and chewy in the center and crispy on the outside and to get a perfect texture in a cookie like that is not easy. I tried Martha Stewart's recipe but my cookies turned out flat like pancakes! Literally - I'm not exaggerating. So when June had posted in her FB account her recently baked choc chip cookies and they all looked like my preferred version, I immediately requested her recipe. Thanks darling - its a very simple quick recipe even kids can attempt!
I was very surprised that it didn't involve any creaming of butter and sugar or whipping. There was just a lot of mixing which is my fav kind of recipes :) But I did reduce the sugar and the choc chips to suit my family's tastebuds. And because I like texture in my cookies, I added oats and pecans.
Ingredients (around 30 cookies)
1 cup melted butter
1/2 tbsp vanilla essence
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup brown sugar
3 cups plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 cup semi-sweet choc chips
1) Mix all the ingredients A and whisk them well.
2) Then, add in all the dry ingredients B. Mix together.
3) Use a 1 tbsp measuring spoon to scoop out and place the cookie dough in rows of 3 on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper.
4) Bake in a preheated oven at 180 deg C for 20-25 mins.
5) Enjoy soft chewy healthier choc chip cookies!
Butternut squash is a hard winter squash that grows on a vine. It is sometimes referred to as the butternut pumpkin or gramma in Australia and New Zealand. It has a sweet nutty taste similar to that of a pumpkin and it becomes increasingly sweeter and richer as it ages.. Butternut squash is a good source of fiber, manganese, magnesium, potassium and Vits A,C and E.
Chickpeas sauted and seasoned with lime juice, salt and pepper added a different dimension to this rather plain Butternut Squash soup. I tried coconut oil instead of the usual EVOO I use in most of my western/italian/mediterranean dishes. Coconut Oil is so under rated, don't you think? Not many of us know that coconut oil is made up of nearly 50% lauric acid which is known to help speed up metabolism, to burn belly fat and improve cellular function. I met the husband of my friend Sherin last night who advised me to take a tbsp of coconut oil twice a day on an empty stomach to help with any inflammation in your digestive system. Key is to look for virgin coconut oil so as to ensure it is not adulterated.
Ingredients (Serves 4)
3 tbsp coconut oil (2 tbsp for the squash soup and 1 tbsp for the chickpeas)
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp salt
1 qt vegetable broth
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks
1/2 can chickpeas
2 tbsp lime juice
Salt & pepper
1) Heat a saucepan and warm up 2 tbsp coconut oil. Fry the diced yellow onions and minced garlic.
2) Add in all the spice powders and salt and saute further.
3) This will be followed by the butternut squash and veg stock. Cover and let it cook for 5-10 mins.
4) In the meantime, saute the chickpeas in another tbsp of coconut oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. This will give a peppery tangy taste to the chickpeas. After 2-3 mins on medium heat, set aside.
5) After 10 mins, the squash would have softened.
6) Blend this mix and pour it back into the pot. Check and adjust for seasoning.
7) When serving, scoop out the butternut squash soup in to a soup bowl and place chickpeas in the center. Add a sprig of coriander leaves for garnish and finish up with a swirl of coconut oil.
I got mesmerized by the beautiful green tone of this loaf when I saw an online video in FB. Then I discovered that spirulina - the cause of the green tone - is a mighty expensive health product - for a small bottle of 150gm, you would need to fork out SGD $33 ( US$24 ). Upon digging, I found out that spirulina is a blue green algae of the freshwater variety and is now one of the most talked about superfoods today. Grown around the world from Mexico to Africa to Hawaii, spirulina has an intense flavor and even more powerful nutrition profile.
Spirulina Health Benefits
Spirulina has many health benefits. It
-helps prevent cancer
-lowers blood pressure
-lowers the risk of stroke
-speeds up weight loss
and many others. It is available in tablet or powder form. Spirulina powder can be used in health shakes and baked goods or simply sprinkled over cereals.
Possible Side Effects
Having raved about its health benefits, please be warned that spirulina may cause certain side effects like nausea, liver damage, shock and can even be fatal if the contaminated version is consumed. Do ensure only the pure blue-green algae that is organic and free from contamination is used.
This bread recipe is of a basic banana recipe but with spirulina added for that lovely gorgeous green colour (I just can't stop talking about it!) and yes, for its health benefits. This Banana Bread version has no eggs, no butter and no sugar!! Can you beat that? :) It is unbelievable that this gorgeous so very healthy bread turned out so delicious...
Ingredients (yields 1 loaf)
3 ripe bananas
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 chia egg (see step 2 below)
1 and 1/2 cups Oat flour (ground oats will do too)
2 tsp organic spirulina powder
3/4 cup almond meal
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup chopped walnuts - 1/2 for mixing in and 1/2 for the topping
1) First preheat the oven to 350 deg F or 180 deg C. Line an 8-inch loaf pan with olive oil spread and put the baking paper and let it hang over. This will help to lift the baked loaf easily.
2) Prepare chia egg. Chia egg is a great substitute for the actual egg. It is made by first grinding 1 tbsp chia seeds into a fine powder. Then mix this with 2 tbsps of water, whisk them together and set aside for 15 mins. This combination is the replacement for 1 egg.
3) Prepare the dry ingredients. From the top clockwise - ground almond, ground oat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spirulina powder. I have no idea why the spirulina powder looks so black in this picture. It is actually a very dark intense bottle green colour. Whisk it all together and set aside.
4) Next, take another mixing bowl and mash the bananas.
5) Take an electric mix and whisk all the other ingredients. Chia Egg (the brown gooey stuff), coconut oil, vanilla essence and honey.
6) Put in all the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Whisk all again until well mixed and no flour remains anywhere.
7) After a few minutes of mixing, this is what you'll get. Have you fallen in love with the colour yet??!!
8) Add and fold in half the 1 cup of walnuts.
9) Pour the green batter into the prepared loaf tin and bake for 45 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle is not very wet but comes out with a few crumbs attached.
10) The baked Spirulina Banana Bread in all its glory! Enjoy it on its own or with your fav cuppa.
Mozarella cheese balls are like little bites of cheese heaven. Mozarella is a southern Italian cheese traditionally made from Italian buffalo milk.Fresh mozarella is generally but may appear slightly yellow because of the animal's diet. Because of its high moisture content, mozarella is served immediately but if kept in its brine in a vacuum-sealed package, they last for a week or more.
Anyway, this simple salad is more like a caprese salad but I added balsamic vinegar in the dressing for variation.
Ingrdients (Serves 2-3)
15 yellow cherry tomatoes
15 red cherry tomatoes
16 mini mozarella balls
small handful of basil leaves
2 tbsps balsamic vinegar
Salt & Pepper
1) Whisk all the dressing together and set aside.
2) Wash and slice the cherry tomatoes lengthwise and arrange on the serving plates.
3) Place the mozarella balls and toss in the basil leaves over.
4) Pour the dressing over and serve.
Hi guys! I have shared my dishes here for you to cook for your own family with love and most importantly with their long term good health in mind.